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TYA/USA Report on Representation Shows Improvement, and Room for More

The study, conducted with the Center for Scholars & Storytellers, shows that gender and race representation in TYA work has increased over the past decade.

NEW YORK CITY: Theatre for Young Audiences/USA (TYS/USA), in partnership with the Center for Scholars & Storytellers, based at UCLA, has announced the release of a report titled “Exploring the Landscape of Live Theatre for Young Audiences in the U.S.” Key findings show that the TYA field has increased representation in terms of gender and race throughout the last decade, though still not to levels that are representative of the population.

“In publicly sharing this challenging but incredibly important research, the national TYA field takes an important step toward accountability and transparency—recognizing the need to understand the problem in order to make meaningful change,” said TYA/USA executive director Jonathan Shmidt Chapman in a statement. “We join our colleagues across disciplines in children’s publishing, film, television, and media who are all actively engaged in conversations about representation in content for young people. As we face the systemic racism in our industry and our nation, we must ensure that a commitment to authentic representation and equity serves as the foundation of our work as we rebuild and return to the stage. We hope this report becomes a vital tool for taking concrete action and creating meaningful change as we move forward.”

TYA/USA was inspired to pursue this research based on the work of the Artists’ Anti-Racism Coalition and their efforts to collect similar data across the Off-Broadway community. The report, which was initiated last year, shares data representing the productions from TYA/USA member theatres across the 2018-19 season, and compares it to the 2008-09 season. The data, which was compiled by Center for Scholars & Storytellers, shows that racial diversity in live theatre for young people is not yet representative of the U.S. population. The study showed that productions by playwrights of color nearly doubled in the past 10 years, but in the 2018-19 season, only 20 percent of productions were written by playwrights of color, and 15 percent of shows were helmed by directors of color. The full report can be found here.

“We hope this is the beginning of a conversation that will bring together the many stakeholders involved in producing, creating, and performing stories for youth,” said Dr. Yalda T. Uhls, founder of the Center for Scholars & Storytellers, in a statement. “By working together, we can help all young people feel seen and heard.”

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